This month, I’m offering a new class: Field Journaling. While nature journals often reflect the inclinations of the journalist in response to the natural world (by incorporating poems, quotes, art, etc.), Field Journals narrow the focus to more of the qualitative and quantitative observations in an orderly way that invites additional inquiry. By noting patterns and connections, journalists can explore, ask great questions and devise ways to answer those questions. Whether you are a science major, citizen scientist, serious birder or curious person, Field Journaling is a time-honored way to hone your observation skills and record your personal discoveries.
In this class, we will jump right into the fun of exploration and notation. For inspiration, we will also look at some notable Field Journals that have been left by past biologists, archeologists and explorers in a variety of fields, as well as the methods they employed.
If you are interested in taking the class, here is the information for the first time it is being offered:
Field Journaling Workshop Instructor, Kelli Hertzler Wednesday March 30, 1:00 – 3:00 pm Frances Plecker Education Center & EJC Arboretum in Harrisonburg, VA
The Wilson Downtown Gallery in Harrisonburg, Virginia is currently hosting an exhibit of my paintings. This gallery participates in First Fridays and will have an Artist’s Reception on March 6 from 5 – 8 pm. The show will stay up until the end of March. Located within Harrisonburg Homes just south of the square, the gallery (and realtors who make it possible) welcome viewers during regular business hours as well. See the website or Facebook event for more information on the location.
Two new additions to the Colors of the Blue Ridge series are on the walls there, along with fourteen other pieces celebrating the natural landscape in the Shenandoah region. (I’ve been working on this series for over a year now. Catch up with my previous posts: Colors of the Blue Ridge and Many Moods of the Mountains.) I will have notecards available featuring many of these scenes at the reception, as well as fine art prints of select paintings.
One more first for this show: I included three plein aire oil painting studies. These were painted in 2018 and 2019. Because oil paintings need to cure for 6-12 months before being varnished, this is the first time I have displayed them.
At the February reception, I was thrilled to talk with friends, family and lots of local art lovers. I’d love to see you there on March 6!
I love both painting and being outside, so painting en plein air should be right up my alley, right? It’s actually a bit of a stretch. I tend to do an enormous amount of planning before beginning a watercolor. The spontaneity of plein air with oil paint is a refreshing change of pace.
Another liberating factor to this adventure is that I’ve decided results don’t matter. (Much like nature journaling: the process is more important than the final result.) My goal is to become reacquainted with oil painting and if a few successful paintings happen by accident, that’s okay, too. (I ended up being pretty happy with most!)
Today, I found myself with unscheduled hours to myself after dropping my daughter off in a beautiful mountainous area near the Virginia/West Virginia border. I had many astounding mountain views to choose from on the drive back, but this one won out due to the subject matter, a great parking spot and a safe location to put up my easel off of the road. Chimney Rock is a striking geological formation and was well lit in the autumn sun. (A man that stopped by to chat informed me that it is the most photographed location in Rockingham County.)
The two photos above show the beginning of the painting session and the end (about two hours later). Shifting values and shadows are part of the plein air challenge. I included just a portion of the VFW building to the right because it helps to show scale and locals know the VFW is there! It seemed a lie to leave it out, although I did omit several structures.
My plein air education so far has included workshops with Stephen Dougherty at Rockfish Gap Community Center and Kevin Adams at Shenandoah National Park. Here are a few other attempts:
Big thanks to my mom! She loaned to me the red easel that appears in all of these photos. She also gave me cartons of canvases, countless tubes of paint, brushes and mediums. And encouragement. Thanks, Mom!
Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park is a big draw for area artists, appearing frequently in local exhibits. I’ve made several paintings there. Last month, I made another trek to see what I could see.
This October day is a spectacular color fest in the meadow. Blue skies with a drift of clouds, brilliant sunlight carves out the undulations in the landscape. Various species of grasses and low-growing plants wearing autumn are swiped across the expanse like a ready-made painting. The challenge is to capture those brilliant yellows and reds in a credible way. They look unnatural.
Parking in the lot at the edge of the meadow, I was able to set up within 50 yards of the car. I made myself comfortable in a director’s chair with side table. A backpack full of art supplies – my medium-sized kit – holds everything I might possibly need.
It’s a bit chilly and my daughter sits wrapped in a blanket reading a book while I quickly do two color sketches of the meadow. (“Are you done yet?”)
I use Schminck masking fluid for the milkweed pods. This is a new item for me and the control freak in me loves the tip of the dispenser. I’ll be posting about my small and medium-sized supply kits soon. (Large is my basement studio.) You can find links to specific art supplies I use on the resource page.
Later, one of those sketches was improved in the studio and is headed for a frame (upper right). The other has some good points and may be a reference for a finished piece later, but it is not deemed frame-worthy (shown at left). I like the color and variety of textures, but the values are too similar throughout. I learned much by the study, so I’ll count it a success anyway.
I treated myself to the BIG set of Prismacolor colored pencils – 150 colors! And some toned paper. Here is the result:
This is graphite, colored pencil and white charcoal pencil on gray toned paper. I love working on a toned ground and pulling highlights out of it, pushing the shadows back. That’s something I can’t do with transparent watercolor. The brilliant color I was able to get with colored pencil was a happy surprise.
The subject is from a hike with my children the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Knowing that hunters were out and about on the public land we – without our blaze orange – explored the stream bed right along the road. These stately rocks were on the hill above.
With 100 yards of the scene just described, this little hemlock is tucked in snugly between an oak and limestone boulders.
It’s amazing how many colors can be seen within gray rocks.
Both pieces are 11″ x 14″ matted, and are in 16″ x 20″ oak frames.
These are a few new watercolors currently hanging at the Rockfish Valley Community Center (until early September). They are all on the smallish side and priced between $90 – 125. Framed size is 14″ x 14″ for all except Sunset on Massanutten, framed at 16″ x 20″.
Sunset on Massanutten Watercolor Sold.
Sunrise over the Mountain. Watercolor Sold.
Mossy Forest III Watercolor Sold.
Spring Ascending the Mountain Watercolor Sold.
Spring in a Field Watercolor Available.
Mourning Dove Watercolor Sold.
To purchase, contact me directly or leave a check with Sara or Cathy at RVCC.